20 May 2015
Transcript - #2015132, 2015

Doorstop interview, Darwin

TREASURER:

I’m very pleased to be here with Natasha and the elected representatives of City of Darwin, to make a 50 metre pool, 50 metres. It’s kind of extraordinary that it’s 49.5 metres. But of course, being a capital city you should have an Olympic approved pool, and that means that your swimmers have the chance to compete with the rest of the world, and that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t be too worried about a pool blanket, it’s pretty hot up here most of the year. Compared to Canberra and Sydney and other places, I think you can swim all year round, provided there’s no crocs in the pool, which I’m pretty sure that’s the case. So, it is – look, it’s part of our Stronger Regions Program. Natasha has been an indefatigable advocate for this local infrastructure that helps to build the opportunities and if it were not for the fact that it is about building opportunities, perhaps tournaments here, swimming tournaments, building a bit of tourism associated with that. Training facilities in a tropical environment, they all matter, and they help to build the economic, help to build to the economic strengths of the North. Can I say how impressed I was this morning with the energy in the room with the Chamber of Commerce, nearly 400 people absolutely focused on how we can grow the local economy. The partnership we’re forging with the Northern Territory Government is a very important partnership as well. So, congratulations, it is a good partnership between the City of Darwin and the Federal Government, initiated by Natasha Griggs, but also we appreciate the support of my other colleagues including Luke Hartsuyker who is here. We continue to work away to strengthen Northern Australia. Okay, any questions.

JOURNALIST:

Yes, there is one. This is from down south. Were you scared off by the prospect of an iron ore inquiry by the big mining companies?

TREASURER:

No.

JOURNALIST:

Would you like to go into that?

TREASURER:

No. And I’d just say, they were terrific consumer confidence figures that came out of Westpac today. They’re another indicator that the Budget has gone down well, but most significantly, people are responding. Australians want to have a go and the consumer confidence figures and increasingly business confidence, is going to start to filter through to a stronger economy with more jobs, which is exactly what our economic plan has been about. Building greater prosperity, more jobs, helping to put in place the infrastructure that makes Australia stronger.

JOURNALIST:

But didn’t you sound initially kind of interested in the idea of having an inquiry into the iron ore industry?

TREASURER:

No. Okay, anything else?

JOURNALIST:

Yes, loads more. Why did the Prime Minister change from saying on Friday that he thought an inquiry was needed, to saying yesterday that the Government didn’t want to interfere in the market and an inquiry could be a witch hunt. What changed between Friday and Tuesday?

TREASURER:

I’m not getting into any commentary on this, other than to reaffirm what I’ve said previously. We’ve been consulting with stakeholders, as the Premier of Western Australia said, I’m speaking with the mining companies, I’ve been speaking with other governments around the world, and we are absolutely focused on doing what is right for Australia. At the same time, making sure that we have a very competitive environment to supply our markets with.

JOURNALIST:

So Treasurer, you don’t see any issues with the pricing structure of iron ore?

TREASURER:

Look, if there is any solid evidence to suggest that there has been collusion or any inappropriate activity or unlawful activity of course it should be investigated. We’ve been speaking with a wide range of shareholders, stakeholders, and a range of others. Out of all of this, we are always going to do what is right for Australia. Now, there are two things that need to be noted. Bill Shorten was the one that was originally entertaining a potential parliamentary inquiry with Nick Xenophon, so Bill Shorten’s got to be put on the sticky paper on this. The second thing is, Chris Bowen’s appearing at the National Press Club today. He needs to explain where the $59 billion of new spending announced by Bill Shorten is going to be funded from. Now, it’s alright for Bill Shorten to say he wants to have a five per cent cut in company tax for small business, but he’s actually got to say where the money is coming from. His own Finance spokesman started to walk away from that 48 hours after the announcement. So, today is the chance for Chris Bowen to explain exactly where all the money is coming from for all the big promises made by Bill Shorten. Okay?

JOURNALIST:

What is your reaction to hearing of the latest of animal cruelty involving Australian cattle in Vietnam?

TREASURER:

Look, I haven’t seen the footage and these things need to be properly investigated. I understand the Department of Agriculture is properly investigating it. It’s hugely important not to have a knee-jerk reaction to it without the matter being properly investigated, which is exactly what’s happening at the moment.

JOURNALIST:

You talked about that five per cent cut that Labor is shopping around. Tony Abbott this morning described the one and a half per cent tax cut as a down payment, so what’s the next instalment? When is it coming? Would you work with Labor given that they’ve offered you an olive branch to lower taxes for small business further?

TREASURER:

Well the thing about Labor’s proposal is it only affects one third of small businesses in Australia. Because companies – only one third of small businesses in Australia are actually incorporated. Two thirds are not. They’re either sole traders or partnerships and so on. So, with our initiative we’ve actually ensured that there is a level playing field for all small businesses in Australia, with either a five per cent tax discount for sole traders and people in partnerships, up to $1,000, which is the equivalent of a one and a half per cent cut in the company tax rate. So, what we’re doing is ensuring that the tide is level. What Labor’s doing is trying to lift one boat, and that’s not going to work. So, if you’re going to have a further round of tax cuts for business, and small business in particular, you’ve got to make sure that no matter what their company structure or their business structure, they all get the same opportunity to get ahead. Mr Shorten doesn’t understand that. They had five Small Business Ministers in six years. We understand that because we are the Party of small business, we understand it, we come from small business. So, that’s why we’ve got the formula right. If Mr Shorten really cares about tax cuts for small business, you know what he’ll do? He’ll pass some of our savings in the Senate. In fact he’ll even pass some of his own savings in the Senate, so that we can then have the money that we can give back to people to invest in new jobs. Okay, last question.

JOURNALIST:

What kind of assurances can you give maritime workers that any changes to coastal shipping rules isn’t, as Labor dubbed it, work choices on the water?

TREASURER:

Oh well Labor’s going to say that. They’re going to say that about anything. It’s a one-line meaningless – what we want to do is make sure that we’ve got a competitive logistics environment that serves the best interests of the Australian economy. Okay, thanks very much.